Kigali homes in power blackout

Hundreds of electricity power consumers in the country spend nights in darkness as they cannot load units of cash-power into their meters.

Hundreds of electricity power consumers in the country spend nights in darkness as they cannot load units of cash-power into their meters.

Electrogaz, the state owned hydro power distribution company is currently facing technical problems.

Major computers containing vital information have crashed leaving only two stations—one at Kigali Business Centre and at Nyarugenge operational. But they are jammed with throngs of customers.

Dominic Karagwa says he has spent a week without   electricity in his home.

 “Since last Monday, I have been coming here at KBC) but I could not get services due to a long queue that start forming in the morning”, Karangwa a resident of Kacyiru lamented.

Jean Munyakazi, a Kimihura resident said,
“Imagine people from Kiyovu, Kanombe, Remera, Muhima and other areas are here queuing with us.

They say their stations are not working.” He claims he had spent over five hours in the line waiting to be serviced
Rwandatel failing us
Electrogaz’s IT manager, Theo Rukundo attributes the current problems to internet breakdown.

“We have three options we use when supplying electricity among our customers, internet, electrogaz offline and SMS. Now our internet connection and SMS messaging is low that is why our customers are facing this problem”, he said.

However, Rukundo said they are working hard to solve this problem.

He said they have subscribed to new internet connection of GPPRS-MTN and that they have also hired an expert from South Africa to solve the problem within 3 days.
 “We have been using only E-Video but now we want increase on our connection by using GPPRS-MTN”, said the IT manager.

The only two working electrogaz stations: KBC and Nyarugenge are all working on offline. Offline is where the station uses the database rather than internet connection.
At least 38 data base computers are ready to be .
distributed to all Electrogaz stations in the country which will be used for offline supply of electricity in case the problem of internet connect continues.

Rukundo said that they have given 3 data base computers to KBC and 2 to Nyarugenge station.

ELECTROGAZ branches in Kigali include; Nyarugenge, Nyamirambo, Muhima.  Other stations are Gikondo, Kacyiru, Remera and Kanombe .

However, recently the Managing Director of electrogaz John Mirenge said Water and electricity tariffs will fall next year.

“We are making sure that the prices fall by next year despite a number of challenges we are still facing,” he said.
He could however not disclose the planned price cut. Currently, electricity tariffs stand at Frw112/KWh, water is at Frw240/5m3.

The reduction in tariffs, Mirenge said, will come as a result of improved reliability and increment of power and water.

In 2005, power tariffs shot up to Frw112 from Frw87 following persistent droughts which caused sharp fall in water levels thus affecting generation of hydroelectric power. Water tariffs were increased from 200/5m3 early this year to 240/5m3 ostensibly to cover operating expenses.

Rwanda was hit by a power crisis between 2005 and 2006 but there has since been an increase of up to 14 percent in hydropower production and 30 percent increase in power importation.

 “One of the strategies was to reserve our water sources for hydropower while importing thermo power,” Mirenge said. He explained that the strategy paid off as it helped achieve marginal reduction of total losses from close to 23 to 21 percent in just two quarters.

Despite this good news, a huge proportion of the population still lacks water and power. The overall access is about 5 percent.

Statistics indicate that more people received power than water in 2006, and the trend is expected to continue as more investments in power compared to water.

From 2004 to 2007, water clients only increased from close 37,700 to 47,000 yet the number of electricity users increased from about 64,000 to 8, 3000 over the same period. This trend is attributed to poor infrastructure across the country.

Mirenge said the government has an aggressive ambition of improving access from five to ten percent by 2011.

He said Electrogaz had so far invested more than Frw10 billion in the energy sector and made Frw35 billion in profits. Between January and June 2007 alone, Electrogaz registered profits of Frw930 million.

Ends

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